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Sylvanus Bourne 

Halifax Massachusetts, 1839- 1916 

Prepiied by William D. Perkins 
Froir. I journal in the Museum of Halifax, MA 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners 


In his brief memoir, Sylvanus Bourne gave very 
little space to his day-to-day life. There is noth- 
ing to be found there about what it was like to 
grow up on a farm in South Halifax in the 1800's, 
for example. There is nothing about his play- 
mates and young friends. Beyond mention of 
fellow soldiers, South Shore men met in Califor- 
nia, a list of several who accompanied him to 
G.A.R. encampments, and the names of those 
men for whom he worked and with whom he 
went to sea, there is no mention of relationships 
he had with women and fellow townsmen as the 
years passed. Even for his own family, there are 
only five brief statements of fact acknowledging 
(1) his marriage, (2) setting up housekeeping, 
(3) the birth of his son Adam, (4) the birth of his 
son Austin and, finally, (5) that he took Adam 
with him on a visit to see the newly constructed 
Brooklyn Bridge. Anything one learns from the 
memoir about the town itself must be discovered 
by inference alone. 

Most space in the memoir is devoted to detailing 
what Sylvanus apparently felt were high-points 

of his life. Though descriptions of his trip to the 
goldfields of California, and his Civil War ser- 
vice as a member of the Massachusetts Light 
Infantry make up the greater part of the text, 
together, they account for only 7 1/2 months of 
his life. In amount of space given to descrip- 
tions, those two are followed by a fishing trip to 
the Grand Banks, a trip to Philadelphia to visit 
the Centennial Exhibition in Fairmount Park, a 
trip to New York City to visit the Brooklyn 
Bridge only a month after its opening, and trips 
to G.A.R. encampments in Boston, Detroit, and 
Washington. This second set of events accounted 
for approximately 4 1/2 months of his life. When 
combined, the events of his life which Sylvanus 
seemed to feel most worth remembering and 
passing on represented no more than 1 of the 78 
years he lived. 

Twenty pages of handwritten text, a listing of 
Halifax men who served in the Revolutionary 
War, another of those who served in the Civil 
War, and a brief family chronology constitute 
the entirety of the memoir. Of the 20 pages of 
text, 19 are given over to the 8 events mentioned 
above. Nine of those 19 pages describe Sylvanus' 

trip to the goldfields and 6 outline, in some 
detail, his experiences as a member of Company 
A, Third Massachusetts Regiment during the 
Civil War. 

Before forming any final conclusions about how 
much of his life Sylvanus thought worth sharing 
in writing, however, the fact that he probably did 
not begin writing until he was 68 years old 
should be taken into account. The late starting 
date is inferred from the inscription found on the 
front fly-leaf of the large 8 1/2 by 13 inch record 
book in which he wrote: 

Sylvanus Bourne 

Halifax Mass 
August 1 th 1907 

Even if that date is accepted as the time at which 
Sylvanus started to write, there is no way to tell 
how much time between 1907 and his death in 
1916 he actually spent in composing the 20 
pages of the memoir. Neither is there any way of 
knowing how trying the task might have been for 
him. From what little we can discover, we know 
that Sylvanus, likle the rest of us, had his ups and 


downs. We know from his obituary published 
on April 16, 1916 in the Bryantville News, for 
example, that he had been ill for some time 
before his death. On the other hand, we also 
know, from an examination of Town Records, 
that he was active in town affairs right up until 
the end (see chronology). It seems reasonable to 
conclude, from changes in the writing which 
appear throughout the pages (different ink, dif- 
ferent pens, variable penmanship), that the mem- 
oir was composed by bits and pieces over a 
considerable period of time. The penmanship on 
most of the pages, though it shows unmistakable 
signs of having been done at different times and 
with differing degrees of care, is of fairly consis- 
tent quality. The G.A.R. entries, which make up 
the last two pages, of the memoir, are a different 
matter. The handwriting has all the appearance 
of having been written by someone who was 
tired, and much older than the person who had 
written the other 18 pages. 

Except for the starting date and varying hand- 
writing, all of this is no more than speculation. 
But it is not unreasonable to imagine that at some 
point late in life, Sylvanus realized how much he 


had been a part of during years which ran through 
the last half of one century and well into the first 
quarter of another. His was a lifetime which 
encompassed Victorian times and penetrated 
deeply into the Edwardian. Important changes 
and events had taken place in Halifax as well as 
in the world at large, and Sylvanus may have 
come to realize that he had played a part in some 
of the most impressive and memorable of them 
on the local as well as the more global scene. It 
is the sort of realization which can come on 
slowly, like a winter dawn. It is also the sort of 
realization which, though it may set one to think- 
ing and writing, is equally capable of paralyzing 
the best of intentions in either of those efforts 
before or after they have begun. Could the latter 
have been so for Sylvanus Bourne? 

Peculiarities of grammar, spelling and punctua- 
tion, along with a tangled chronological sequenc- 
ing of events, sometimes made it difficult to 
make sense of what Sylvanus was trying to say. 
Much re-reading of the text was necessary. The 
inordinate amount of work required to transcribe 

such a small amount of information about one 
man's life-and-times encouraged thoughts of 
abandoning the task as not really worth doing. It 
was fortunate, perhaps, that a certain Yankee 
stubbornness diverted the temptation. Only by 
yielding to the demand for that extra-measure of 
effort did I rediscover something which I seemed 
to have forgotten — questions, if their chal- 
lenges are accepted, become windows through 
which one can acquire an insight-into-context 
beyond that possible during the first, excite- 
ment-driven, reading of any newly discovered 
document. It was only by looking for answers to 
the questions (not necessarily finding them) that 
I began to understand and appreciate some of the 
space-time relationships which made it possible 
to round-out a mental picture of Sylvanus Bourne 
as a truly living human being. By way of illus- 
tration, much of interest is to be discovered 
about routes, costs and conditions of the experi- 
ence by tracking Sylvanus' westward journey of 
1859 through supplementary material. All of it 
can be helpful in putting Sylvanus' adventure in 
its proper perspective. 

Sylvanus' experiences on the journey were very 


different from those of his predecessors, for 
example. They were differences which would 
have remained unknown to me, had I not been 
curious about the port of Aspinwall. It appeared 
on no maps in my possession and could not be 
found in any of my atlases or dictionaries. The 
discovery of its identity opened a Pandora's box 
of new questions which led to the realization just 
how different Sylvanus' trip was from that of the 
forty-niner's. Though his journey was difficult, 
full of risk, and demanding of some high-level 
ingenuity at times, Sylvanus "had it easy" com- 
pared to others, who chose to cross Panama, 
starting from Chagres on the east coast and end- 
ing at Panama City where passage could be 
booked for San Francisco on ships which put in 

Trying as Sylvanus' journey was, it must have 
been far easier than that of those men who made 
their crossings along alternate routes during the 
ten years preceeding the building of Aspinwall's 
railroad. Their only choices were routes which 
took them across hostile, often dangerous terri- 
tory, routes which took them afoot, on mules, or 
on horses onto the flatlands of seemingly endless 


plains and scorching deserts; into mazes of roll- 
ing hills or highlands of rocky, often snow- 
covered mountains; or, , through boggy, mos- 
quito-ridden tropical swamps to be crossed only 
by bungoes poled by natives. 

As I have already pointed out, much information 
of that description is useful in helping to form a 
more complete and acurate idea of Sylvanus as a 
man, the nature of the times in which he lived, 
the character of both the experiences he had and 
the places he visited. It serves to provie a greater 
fullness than will be formed by reading only the 
memoir. A little of the flavor of this supplemen- 
tary material is offered in editorial notes inserted 
here and there throughout the transcription. 



In editing the memoir, I would like to have been 
able to keep everything just as Sylvanus Bourne 
wrote it, but that was not always practical. The 
arrangement of words, choice of words, and 
spelling appear here just as they appear in the 
original text. Where misspellings occur, how- 
ever, the first appearance for each misspelled 
word is followed by "[sic]" to indicate that the 
error is that of Sylvanus. Subsequent misspell- 
ings of the same word are not noted, though the 
misspelled word is transcribed exactly as it ap- 
pears in the original text. A list of Sylvanus' 
misspellings will be found in the Appendix. The 
list has not been included as a matter of criticism. 
It is intended to ease the way for anyone inter- 
ested in studying the nature of Sylvanus' spell- 
ing. Sylvanus' repeated errors are so regularized 
among similar words as to suggest that, correct 
or not by contemporary standards, he was oper- 
ating in accord with a rule of one sort or another. 
The result, a striking consistency in selected sets 
of misspellings throughout the text, is worth 


On the other hand, punctuation, which for all 
practical purposes seemed non-existent, has un- 
dergone considerable adjustment. Though his 
sentences are well structured in most cases, there 
is little indication in the original document where 
one is meant to end and another to begin. Nor is 
there any indication where minor breaks should 
occur within any sentence. As a result, the 
necessary punctuation has been added. Because 
of Sylvanus' habit of "salting" his writing with 
indiscriminately distributed capital letters it was 
necessary to give a considerable share of atten- 
tion to his capitalization and inappropriately 
capitalized words have been transcribed with 
their more appropriate lower-case initial letters. 

Since all 20 handwritten pages of the original 
document are strung together as one impossibly 
long paragraph, I have divided the transcribed 
version into paragraphs as seemed necessary. 



As a start toward filling in the great void which 
exists in our knowledge of Sylvanus' doings 
around home and around town, I have compiled 
a chronology using what information could be 
gleaned from the memoir and supplemented it 
with information from: 

1. Baker, Guy S., History of Halifax, Massa- 
chusetts. 1976. 

2. Biographical Review: Vol. 18, Containing 
Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Ply- 
mouth, Biographical Review Co., Boston, 
MA, 1897, p. 313. 

3. Bridgewater Bicentennial Committee, His- 
tory Highlights, Bridgewater, MA: Com- 
memorative Journal. W.S. Sullwold Pub- 
lishing, Taunton, MA, 1976. Ch. 6, by 
David R. Moore, "Economy; Business, 
Industry, and Agriculture, pp. 81 - 141. 

4. Bridgewater Directory. 


5. Bryantville News, The. 

6. Halifax Directories, 1902-1903 and 1914. 

7. Halifax 250th Anniversary History Com- 
mittee, The Town of Halifax Yesterday 
and Today, Harry B. Harding and Son, 
Inc., Whitman, MA, 1984. 

8. Halifax Town Records for the years 1839 
through 1916. 

9. Hurd, D. Hamilton, History of Plymouth 
County, MA...J.W. Lewis and Co., Phila- 
delphia, 1884, pp. 785 - 786 

10. Nason, George W. Massachusetts Minute- 
Men of '61 , 

11. Old Bridgewater Tercentenary 1656 - 
1 956, Old Bridgewater Historical Society, 

12. Old Maps of Southern Plymouth County, 
MA in 1879, The. Saco Valley Printing, 
Fryeburg, ME, 1986; 


13. Vital Records of the Town of Halifax MA 
to the End of the Year 1849, Literally 
transcribed by George Ernest Bowman, 
MA Society of Mayflower Descendants, 

The names listed below are those of people who, 
by providing free access to their special knowl- 
edge and resources, have contributed materially, 
in a great number of ways, toward progress of the 
manuscript as it now stands. What is to be found 
on these pages represents just a bit of the knowl- 
edge acquired, with their help, of Sylvanus and 
life in the Halifax that he knew Much more 
remains to be put into words and much still 
remains to be collected. If you have any knowl- 
edge of Sylvanus or life in Halifax during his 
years (1839-1916), please make a point of let- 
ting me know about it so that the picture can 
continue to be filled in. 

I apologize for any names which should be listed 
here but which, for reasons known only to my 
subconscious mind, have been left off. If you 
happen to be one of those, please tell me and the 


oversight will be rectified. 

James Baker, Carol Boschen (Town Clerk, 
Halifax), Harry Brown, Benjamin Cianfarani (a 
special notice: he contributed the manuscript to 
Ruth Perkins as Town of Halifax Historian), 
Priscilla Crosby (Librarian, Cobb Library, 
Bryantville) Bernadette L. Hemingway (Town 
Clerk, Middleboro), Albert Kiernan, Doreen 
Kiernan, Ruth Perkins. 




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Son of Abram and Mary Ann (Harlow) Bourne. 
Born in Halifax April 4 th , 1839. At the age of 15 
went away from home and done chores for board 
at Mr. Leavitt Wood's and went to School. Lived 
there two years. 

At the age of 17 went to work for Father at 8 
Dollars per Month. Worked one year. At the age 
of 18, hired out to Otis Thompson 6 Months for 
100 dollars. Worked the 6 Months. Worked for 
Cyrus Thompson that Winter in the woods, part 
of the time, and the rest of the time in the Mill - 
— and lived there. 

[off to Ca lifo rnia]: 

On Feb. 5 th , 1859, started for California. There 
was a great deal of talk about the rich gold mines 
at that time, and I thought I would like to see 

Went to Boston and Bought my ticket and paid 
$125.00 for a Steerage ticket. The Steam Ship 
[sic] was to sail from New York Feb. 5 th . On Feb. 
4 th , I took the Boat from Fall River to New York. 


They had just commenced the great Brooklyn 
Bridge then. They had got two or three guyes 
[sic] across the River. Arrived in New York for 
the first time in my life. Stayed at the hotel 
Lovejoy over Night [sic]. 

Sailed from New York at 2 o'clock the next day, 
Feb. 5 th . We had 600 passengers in the Steerage. 
Every bunk was full. There was just room enough 
to squeeze in between the bunks. You couldent 
[sic] sit up in one of them. I dident [sic] stay in 
my bunk at all. I stayed on deck all the time. 

In 4 days from New York we come in sight of 
land. It was the Bahama Islands. We passed very 
close to some of them. They smelled very sweet, 
like Summer. Everything was green and was 
very fragrant — quite a change from the icy 
North, for the ground was covered with snow 
and ice when we left New York. We passed very 
close to Cuba on the east. There was 2 days that 
we was in sight of land all the time. 

Then we came in to [sic] the Caribbean Sea. We 
dident see land again until we got in sight of the 


Isthmus of Panama. We arrived in Aspinwall 
[sic] Feb. 13. We went ashore there and stayed 
over Night. There was no Hotels there. We slept 
on the floor in some old barracks. There was no 
good Houses there. The Railroad had several 
large repair Shops there. That was about all the 
buildings there was there, except the Native 
Huts. The land is very low there. The Turkey 
Buzzards were very numerous. They were around 
in great flocks and were very tame. They would 
light down all around you. They wouldent [sic] 
allow you to kill one. There was a big fine if you 

Feb. 14 we took the steam cars at Aspinwall and 
went across the Isthmus to Panama, 48 1/2 Miles. 
The first part of the way was very low and wet. 
The rest of the way was Mountains as high as you 
could see, and there was places that we could 
look down a thousand feet or more to the River 
below. There was places where the train went 
around the Mountains that was so crooked that 
we couldent see but two or three cars at once. 
There was places where they had drilled into the 
rock just wide enough for the track. Some of the 


Passengers was awfully scared. 

It took the bigest [sic] part of the day to go across 
to Panama. On the way we saw lots of Native 
huts and the most butiful [sic] birds that ever 
was. Some of them was was [sic] red, some was 
green and all colors. It was woods all the way. 
The trees was all covered with vines. 

When we arrived in Panama, the first thing we 
saw was some Native Soldiers Parading up and 
down the platform. Our Pasengers [sic] made a 
lot of fun of them (From New York to Aspinwall 
is 1980 Miles). The trees that we saw crossing 
the Isthmus were mostly palms. We saw in two 
or three places where the natives had made bridges 
of the leaves. The leaves were ten or fifteen feet 

We had to take a small tug Boat [sic] to go out to 
the steamer, as there was only one wharf and that 
wasent [sic] large enough for a Steam Ship to 
come up to. We went on board the Ship. The 
Natives were around the Ship in their canoes 
loaded with fruit. We could buy 15 oranges for 


10 [cents]. They had fruit of all kinds. There 
was a good many kinds that I never saw before. 
The Passengers threw lots of money overboard 
to see the Natives dive for it. They would bring 
it up and hold it up in their fingers to show us that 
they had got it. 

They took on board a lot of cattle and it pleased 
us very much to see how they loaded them onto 
the Ship. They (the Natives) Swam them out to 
the Ship then put a strap around their horns and 
swung them 30 ft. in the air and pulled them on 
deck. They were all wild cattle with very large 
horns. Some of their horns would spread 4 feet. 

We Sailed from Pannama [sic] that Night. We 
had a pleasant trip from Pannama to Acapulco. It 
took 6 days. There were Mountains in sight the 
most of the way. At a great distance they looked 
like great thunder pillars arising. We went in to 
Acapulco between two large mountains. The 
passageway dident look more than two or three 
hundred feet wide. When we got in there we 
found one of the prettiest Harbors that you ever 
saw. I should think it was one mile across it. The 


Though not mapped at the time, Columbia, Shaw's Flat, 
Chinese Camp, and Big Oak Flat were all between the 
Stanislaus and Touloumne Rivers just west and south of 
Sonora. Jacksonville, in the same area, was just south of 
the Touloumne. 


Natives flocked around the Ship same as they did 
in Pannama with their fruit for sale. There was 
whare [sic] I saw the largest and best Oranges 
that I ever saw. We could buy 15 of them for 10 
(cents). They dident allow any Passengere [sic] 
to go on shore there. We went in to one other 
place in Mexico, cant [sic] remember the name 
they called it. Manzanella [Bahia Manzanillo] [?] 
They dident stop there but a short time to leave 
the Mail. 

After leaving there we dident see land again until 
near San Francisco. Then we saw the Mountains 
looming up again. There was whare I saw the 
largest Seas that I ever saw. They were long and 
regular and Mountains high. Our Ship would 
ride down on them same as a Boy riding down 
hill [sic] . It seemed as though it would never rise 

[California at last]: 

When we arrived at San Francisco the entrance 
to the Harbor is very narrow and the tide was 
runnind [sic] out. It made it very rough. Our 
Ship rolled terribly. It took half a day to get up 


to the Wharf. When we got there, the wharf and 
the street was lined with People of all Nations. 
We got on shore finally, but it took us a long 
time. We went to the largest Hotel in the City, 
the What Cheer House. 

It took Sixteen days from Pannama to San Fran- 
cisco — 26 days from New York. I stayed at the 
What Cheer House one week. Visited all the 
places of amusement. The most curious of them 
all was the Chinese Theater. There were liquor 
Shops on every corner. There was gambling 
going on in every one of them. It looked curious 
to me to see every man with Pistol straped [sic] 
on to [sic] his hip. I had one myself, but I kept 
it out of sight. Just think what a lesson that was 
for a Boy only 19 years old. I stayed there one 
week, then took the Boat for Stockton 180 miles 
up the River San Joaquin. 

Went up the River in the Night. Took the Stage 
coach [sic] from there the next Morning for 
Shaw's Flat, in the Mines, 85 miles from Stock- 
ton. Had a chance to see the country. We had 4 
horses on our coach. They changed Horses once 



in about 10 Miles. They run their Horses a great 
deal of the way. We passed a great many places 
where some poor fellows had taken up claims 
and had built log houses and had left them. It 
was very dry and there was a great cloud of dust 
followed us. There was several places where 
they chained all four of the wheels and those on 
top had to get off and let the coach slide down. 
We passed through several places where there 
was quite a settlement and several Indian camps. 
Arrived at Shaw's Flat at 10 o'clock at Night. 

Almost the first man I met was George Morton 
from Middleboro. Stayed all Night with him. 
There was several people there from Middleboro. 
Mr. Josiah Shaw hired me for one week at $3.00 
a day. Worked for him for 2 weeks. Boarded at 
the Texas Hotel at $10.00 a week. Then I worked 
Nights some for $4.00 a Night. Then I worked 
with two other Fellows, by the name of Moody, 
in the mines. We dident make but about 2 
Dollars a day apiece. We had to pay $4.00 a day 
to wash our dirt. Shaw's Flat lies East of Table 
Mountain, Columbia on the North and Sonora on 
the South, in Tuolumne County. 



Table Mountain is a Mountain Several Miles 
long. It may be 1/2 Mile wide in the widest place 
and as level as a table. Under this they have 
struck the bed of a River. They have found logs 
there and the prints of Animal[']s. feet. And the 
gold they find there is the same as they find in the 
bed of the river — very thin and scaly. I have 
seen all of this, so I know it is true. While I was 
there on Shaw's Flat, I saw people picking peas 
in the garden when the Mountains were covered 
with Snow, all in sight in Nevada. 

While I was there, I visited Columbia and Sonora 
and went as far North as Big Oak Flat. Saw Oaks 
that were 10 ft. through and over. I have seen a 
pine tree, that fenced one side of a garden, that 
you couldent climb over without a ladder. I have 
seen a pine tree that there was 8-20 feet logs cut 
from it up to the limbs. 

The day that I was 20 years old, I started for 
Jacksonville, 15 Miles away on the Toulumne 
River. There was some Folk there by the name 
of Orcutt from Middleboro that I had seen be- 



fore. The only time that I got real scared was on 
that day. I went alone. There was no settlement 
on the road; only now and then a place where the 
Stage sloped [sic] to feed Horses. Of course all 
of these places they sold liquor. I got pretty tired 
after going about 10 Miles and thought I would 
stop in and get a lunch. There was a lot of people 
there of all nations — Mexicans, Indians, and 
Chinese — and they were all pretty full, and of 
all the talk that I ever heard that beat all. They 
were well armed with their Pistols and knives. 
Well, I went right in just as though I belonged 
there. They stared at me but dident say anything 
to me. I had a loaded Pistol in my pocket, but it 
was out of sight. I dident stay there long. I 
hadent [sic] gone more than 1/2 mile, just out of 
sight of the place, when I saw a man lying side of 
the Road. His head was lying down hill, his 
mouth was open, and I know he was dead. He 
looked like an American. I dident dare to go near 
him for I was afraid they would see me and think 
I killed him. That was the time that my hair rose 
up just a little. I dident get to Jacksonville untill 
[sic] about 12 o'clock at Night. I was in sight of 
there about an Hour and a half before I got there. 



I could see it in the Valley at a distance. 

When I got there everything was booming. The 
first place I went in to was a Billiard Room and 
almost the first man I met was Alpheus Orcutt, 
just the man I wanted to see. Used to go to 
School with him. I met Mr. James Fuller and Mr. 
Holmes there. They were running a cobbler's 
shop. I stayed there 2 or 3 weeks and worked in 
garden for a Mr. Smart from Jamaica. There was 
all kinds of Fruit grew there — Oranges, Lem- 
ons, Apricots, Peaches. There was a tree there 
that grew 14 feet in one year — some kind of a 
Chinese tree. I worked for $3.00 a day. Had to 
pay so much for board that I couldent make as 
much as I could at home, so I made up my mind 
that I would come home. 

When I was in California there was no money 
smaller than 10 c piece: 2 - 10 c pieces was just as 
good for there was no change back. They called 
a 10 c piece a bit and a 25 c piece 2 bits. 

Jacksonville lies in a small Valley between 2 
high Mountains. The Toulumne River runs 



through there. When I made up my mind to come 
home, I told Mr. Orcutt's Folks that they wouldent 
see me any more [sic] for I was going home and 
had got to start at 2 o'clock in the morning, for I 
had got to walk 10 miles to meet the Stage up to 
Chinese Camp. When I got there, there was 2 
coaches going to Stockton. They said they 
couldent take me for they had got all they could 
carry. There was 25 on one coach and 26 on the 
other. I told them that I would take my chances 
if they would let me get on top of the coach. 
There was a lot of Chinamen on top of the coach 
so I piled in with them. They were regular old 
fashion coaches with a railing around the top. 
They were very top heavy with such a load on 
top. In going back to Stockton, of course, we 
had to go through the same routine that we did in 
going up — getting off and getting on and chaning 
[sic] th[e] wheels at every steep grade. 

Arrived at San Francisco. Took the Stage from 
there up the San Jose Valley to San Jose, 65 
miles. There I met Mr. Isaac Sampson. There I 
saw the old Mission built by the Spaniards. 
Nobody knows how old it is. There was a chime 



of bells on it. They hung on a large stick. They 
had to go up there and pound on them to ring 
them. San Jose is a great farming and fruit 
country. There I saw thousands and thousands 
of acres of wheat, just as far as you could see, and 
thousands of fruit trees. Stayed there over Night. 
Come back to San Francisco the next day. In 
three days I rode 215 Miles on the Stage and 180 
on the boat. I went there to see Mr. Sampson 
before I come home. He went out the same time 
that I did. 

While I was out there, Mr. Vanderbuilt [sic] put 
a line of Steamers on in Opposition to [the] 
regular Mail line so I only had to pay $42.50 for 
my ticket home. The $2.50 was for Tax, for no 
man could leave the country without paying a 
Tax. I worked out a road Tax of $3.00 while I 
was there. I bought my ticket on the regular line. 

[headed home]: 

On the way back I got aquainted [sic] with a man 
that had lived in Panama 5 years and he told me 
that when we got back there he would show me 
the City, for he could talk with the Natives. I 



told him that if he would show me the town, I 
would give him as good a dinner as we could get 
there. We had a pleasant trip from San Francisco 
to Panama. When we arrived there the Natives 
flocked around and this man hired one of them to 
take us ashore in his boat. He carryed [sic] us as 
far as he could in his boat (for the water is very 
shallow there and the bottom is covered with 
coral). Then he took us one at a time on his 
shoulder and carryed us ashore. He was bare 
foot [sic] and carryed us on that sharp coral. I 
picked up a piece of the coral and have it now. 

We had all day in the City. There is where I saw 
the prettiest dresses that I ever saw. The Spanish 
women wore them and they went barefoot. As I 
said before, the Houses were built of Adobe 
brick. The most of them were 2 stories and the 
walls were 3 feet thick. We had all day in the 
city. We went to the only American Hotel there 
was there. For dinner we had a chicken dinner. 
It was good and it cost me $5.00. On the west 
side of the Harbor there was an old Fort. It was 
covered with vines so we could hardly see it. On 
the east side there was ruins of old buildings 



sticking out of the water. They said that there 
had been an Earthquake there, some time [sic] or 
other, and those buildings had sank. There was 
the same old Soldiers parading up and down the 

I took the train for Aspinwall. Arrived at 
Aspinwall. There was 2 Steam Ships there that 
was comeing [sic] to New York. One was going 
direct to New York and the other was going by 
way of Key West, Florida. They said I might 
have my choice. They said that it would take one 
day longer to go by the way of Key West. I took 
the Steamer to Key West. 

We had a pleasant trip to Key West. Arrived 
there. There was a very pretty Harbor there. We 
arrived there just at Night. It was on the full 
Moon. It was light as day. They took on coal 
there. The Natives brought it on board in sacks 
on their bare back from the barge. They let us go 
on shore there. They had just had a fire there that 
had burned the bigest part of the Town. The 
people were living in barracks. There was all 
kinds of Fruit there that grow in the Tropics. We 



sailed from there in the morning. Arrived in 
New York the next day after the other Steam 
Ship did. 

Stayed in New York all day. Went into a number 
of large Stores. I had a cane with me that I 
brought from Pannama. I went off and left it in 
one of the Stores. Had gone quite a ways before 
I missed it. Went back to the Store and told them 
that I had left a cane there and I wanted it. They 
said that they hadent seen any cane and they 
dident believe I had left any there. I told them I 
was sure that I left it there and if they dident 
bring it forward I would call an Officer and 
search for it. They finally brought it forward. 
That is my Pannama cane that I have now. 

[home again]: 

June 9, 1860: married Emily P. Wade, daughter 
of Leavitt and Lavinia (Bourne) Wade. Went to 
House Keeping [sic] at Cyrus Thompson's place. 
Worked for Zadock Thompson in the Mill and in 
the woods. 

I belonged to the Old Militairy [sic] Co. of 



Halifax. That was the time when the trouble was 
brewing in the South. There had several States 
Seceded. Then in 1861, April 15, our Company 
had orders to report in Boston at once to go 
South. Word come to me while I was kindling 
my fire in the morning. I dident stop to finish 
kindling my fire, but put on my Uniform and 
started for Boston. 

[off to war]: 

Went in on the first train from Halifax. There 
was great excitement in Boston, for the Rebels 
had fired on Fort Sumpter [sic]. We stayed in 
Boston over Night in the Hall over the Old 
Colony Depot. The next day we went on board 
the Steamer S.R. Spalding [sic] for Fortress 
Munroe [sic]. Gov. Andrew visited us while we 
were in the Hall. When we arrived at Fortress 
Munroe, Col. Dimmick was in Command. He 
was awfully pleased to see us. We arrived in the 
fort about 11 o'clock A.M. and Stacked arms. 
They brought us out a lunch. Before we got 
through eating, orders come for us to pack our 
Knapsacks and take 3 days rations for a march. 
The 4 th Regimen; arrived there before we did. 



They called on them to go, but Col. Packard said 
that his men was to[o] tired to go, but Col. 
Wardrop said that his men wasent tired at all they 
would go. So we formed Regiment and marched 
down to the Wharf and on board the Gun Boatfsic] 

As soon as it was dark she started for Norfolk. 
We run very slow, for the Rebs had Batteries all 
along the shore. When we come up to the Old 
Frigate Cumberland, they hailed us and came 
very near fireing [sic] in to us. It was some time 
before we could make them understand who we 
was. We took some of the Cumberland's Men on 
board and went on to Norfolk Navy Yard. When 
we got there, they had received orders to destroy 
the Navy Yard. They had a fine dry dock [sic] 
there. We rolled barrels of powder in to it and 
under it. When we got everything all ready [sic], 
orders come for us to go on board the Pawnee. 
When they was sure every man was on board, the 
men that was aquainted with the place touched 
off the fuzes [sic]. There was some of the most 
terrible Explosions that I ever heard. It fairly 
shook the Ship that we was on. As soon as 


Old Point 

tress Monroe 
c'rip raps 


What is mapped here as Gosport Navy Yard, on the 
Elizabeth River, is the area described by Sylvanus as 
having been destroyed. 



everything was touched off, we took the 
Cumberland in tow with all the men of the yard 
on board, passed down the River, leaving behind 
a sea of Flames leaping from everything that 
would burn. In this work the men of the Third 
were engaged with the seaman [sic] and force of 
the Yard until three o'clock Sunday morning 
when the Regiment again went on board the 
Pawnee. At 8 o'clock the Regiment re-entered 
the Fort a very tired and hungry set of men, 
having had nothing to eat for nearly 24 hours. 

This passage to Norfolk between rebel batteries 
on either side of the river was the first penetra- 
tion of the enemy s [sic] lines by the troops of any 
State, and to the Third Massachusetts Regiment 
must be given the honor of being first troops, 
either volunteer or national, to perform the du- 
ties of active War service within the hostile 
borders of the Southern Confederacy. The 
distruction [sic] of the Norfolk yard deprived the 
rebels of millions of dollars worth of war mate- 
rial and a navy which they had believed within 
their grasp and the set back [sic] which this loss 
occasioned to the Confederacy was, in a military 



sense, the counterpart of their failure to seize the 
government at Washington; resulting, in both 
instances, from the prompt movement of the 
militia from Massachusetts. 

The Regiment was mustered into the service of 
the United States April 22, 1861, and became a 
part of the garrison of Fortress Munroe from that 
date. On May 14, two companies enlisted for 
three years service were attached to the Regi- 
ment. Company I, Captain William D. Cham- 
berlain, raised in Lynn; and Company M, Cap- 
tain Jonas K. Tyler, raised in Boston. Two more 
Companies of three three [sic] years men — D, 
Captain Charles Chipman, recruted [sic] in Sand- 
wich; and E, Captain Samuel H. Doten, recruted 
[sic] in Plymouth — were assigned to the Regi- 
ment May 22. 

As a part of the secession plan to have the 
government Fortifications in as defenceless [sic] 
a condition as possible, most of the guns of the 
Fortress were unmounted and lying packed out- 
side the walls. It consequently became the labo- 
rious duty of the Third and Fourth Regiments, 



besides the usual routine of guard and garrison 
together with the unloading of vessels with stores, 
to drag these heavy pieces of ordnance into the 
fort, up the ramparts, and mount them. This 
fatiguing work continued daily until July 1 st 
when the Regiment was ordered to occupy the 
village of Hampton. It there took up quarters in 
the deserted houses, often having night scouting 
and harassing duties to perform, as the enemy 
lying in force nine nine [sic] miles away at Big 
Bethel under General Magruder, was frequently 
in contact with the Union lines then extending 
from Newport News through Hampton to For- 
tress Munroe. The Battle of Big Bethel, the first 
of the war, having been fought on the tenth of 
June, a demonstration was made in strong force, 
with artillery and cavalry, by the rebels, towards 
Hampton on the night of July 4 th and Colonel 
Wardrop, with nine companies of the Third and 
seven companies of the Naval Brigade, made a 
counter demonstration by marching out and tak- 
ing position at the fork of the roads two miles 
from Hampton, remaining several hours, until 
scouts reported that the enemy had retired be- 
yond Newmarket bridge. 



The first flag of truce in the war was received at 
an outpost of the third Regiment when, after the 
battle of Big Bethel, Major Carey of the rebel 
forces brought in the watch of Major Theodore 
Winthrop who was killed in that fight. Major 
Winthrop, when he rode out that morning, wore 
the sword of Colonel Wardrop inscribed with 
that officer's name. It was taken from Major 
Winthrop's body by a North Carolina officer and 
the report prevailed through the South that Colo- 
nel Wardrop of the Third Massachusetts had 
been killed in that action. Some years after the 
war was over, the sword was returned to Colone 

For the daring cruice [cruise] we had made, they 
took us into the Fort just as though we had 
always belonged there. When we landed at the 
Fort there was but a very few guns Mounted. 
While we were there, we mounted about 300 
guns. The most of them weighed 8 Tons apiece. 
We drawed them up on to the high parapets by 
hand. They had wheels there 12 feet high. We 
would we would [sic] swing the guns under the 



axle. They had large ropes there with handles on 
them. We would hitch the rope on to the rim of 
the wheel and draw over the top of the wheel and 
have a man behind the wheel with a block. We 
would draw it over a piece and he would block it 
and we would cleet [sic] [a]new. It made the 
natives stare to see how we handled those guns. 

Besides doing the work Mounting guns, we done 
guard duty every day in and around the Fort. My 
beat in the Fort was, most of the time, right over 
the main entrance on the parapets. My orders 
were, if I saw anyone comeing over the Bridge, 
to halt them and call the guard at No. 1 which 
was at the gate and, if he dident stop at the word 
Halt, to shoot him down. There was no Night but 
what there was a good many going out and in. 
There is a moat around the Fort that is 80 feet 
wide. There is no way in to the Fort, only over 
this Bridge. Our orders were, if we saw a blue 
light any whare [sic] in the harbor, to give the 

We done duty in the Fort about 2 Months, then 
our company was detailed to go on to the Mail 



Boat from Fortress Munroe to Newport News. 
The Boat would come down from Washington 
and take us on board and go up to Newport News 
in the afternoon and stay all Night on the Boat 
and come back the next morning. We had to go 
past several Rebel Batteries in going up to New- 
port News, but they never dared to fire on us. We 
went on the Boat every day for about 2 or 3 
weeks. Our quarters was in the Fort all of this 

Then we went on guard duty outside of the Fort. 
Sometimes my beat would come on the Beach, 
sometimes it would come on the Bridge leading 
to Hampton — that was about a mile from the 
Fort. I was on guard at the Bridge the Night that 
Lieutenant Cephas Washburn (he was the Offi- 
cer of the guard that Night) brought in the first 
Negroes in to the Fort. The Negroes kept comeing 
to us and bothering us. Finally Lieut. Washburn 
took 4 or f of them in to the Fort. It wasent a 
week before we had a hundred or more in the 
Fort. Gen. Butler pronounced them contrabands 
of war and set them to work. They worked like 
tigers. They would do anything for us if we 



wouldent send them back again. They would 
dance and sing. They was the happyest [sic] 
fellows that you ever saw. 

I was on guard at the Main entrance at the Hos- 
pital the day that the Battle was at Little Bethel. 
The dead and wounded were brought in to the 
Hospital. They brought them down in a row 
Boat [sic]. They were a terrible sight, all cov- 
ered with blood and sand whare they had rolled 
on the ground. 

Finally our Regiment had orders to pack our 
Knapsacks and take 3 days rations for a march. 
We marched towards Hampton. We halted at the 
Hampton Institute and Gen. Pierce made a speech 
to us. Then we marched on to Hampton. We 
arrived in Hampton and took up our quarters in 
the best Houses we could find, for the Rebs had 
evacuated the Town. There was a few Slaves left 
and that was all there was left in the Town. It was 
a very pretty Village of, I should think, 2 or 3 
thousand Inhabitants. There was some very fine 
Houses and they had left a great part of the 
Furniture behind. There was several Pianoes 



[sic] left, so we had lots of music. We had one 
man, Henry Gurney, that was a Professional 

Here we had to go on Picket Duty way out, a mile 
from Town. Our Picket Guards Head quarters 
[sic] was in a church on the main Road out of 
Town. It was a grand place. There was a 
cemetairy [sic] side of the church yard and the 
graves was most of them covered with flat stone. 
They were built up just right for a seat and they 
were nice and cool to lay on in a hot day. The 
most of them were shaded for there was lots of 
trees there. You could count a dozen Men laying 
on them any day. 

We built a breast work [sic] across the Road in 
front of a large nice House. We cut down some 
of the handsomest shade trees that you ever saw, 
right in the front yard, to build our brest works 
[sic] of. We had to do Picket guard duty here. 
Our guard was posted nearly a mile out from the 
Village. We had only about 300 Men for duty so 
they had to be posted about 30 or 40 rods apart. 
We stayed there and held the Town until our time 



was up. The next day we had orders to march 
back to the Fort. A short time after that, the Rebs 
come on and burned the Town. 

I think we took the Steamer Cambridge for Bos- 
ton the next day. When we got in to Boston 
Harbor, they landed us on Long Island. We were 
discharged from the United States Service July 
22 nd 1861. 

[back home again]: 

In September we mooved [sic] from the Cyrus 
Thompson place to Major Drew place. We lived 
there until November 1862 (Abram was Born 
there Dec. 29, 1861). 

Went to work in the Iron Works at Bridgewater. 
They wanted all the men they could get to work 
on the Government work. They were making 
Porthole Stoppers and Iron Plates for Battle Ships 
[sic] and lots of other work. They run Night and 
day while the War lasted. 

Mooved from Major Drew place to East 
Bridgewater in to what they called the small 



Boarding House at the Gin works. That was the 
nearest place that I could get to the Iron Works. 
Lived there about 5 months then we Mooved to 
Elmwood at Philander Pratt's place. There we 
stayed 1 1 months. Worked in the Iron works all 
the time. 

From there we mooved back to Halifax to Father's. 
Worked in the Iron works 2 years all together 
[sic]. Worked in the Forge all the time, on 
Government work. All very heavy work. Some 
of the shafts weighed 40 tons. I worked in the 
Iron works just as long as I could stand it. Got all 
run down and had to quit. Then I made up my 
mind that I would take a trip to Sea. 

[gone fishin ']: 

I went to Plymouth and found that Joseph 
Sampson was going to the Banks [as] Com- 
mander of the schooner Wampatuck. I asked 
him if I couldent go with him and he said I might. 
He said he would give me $85.00 for the trip and 
if I done pretty well he would give me a $100.00. 
I hadent been with him long when he come to me 
and said I should have $100.00. I come within 



300 of high line. They had men that they payed 
[sic] $200.00 for the trip. 

We sailed from Plymouth May 23 rd 1864. In our 
crew there was 8 men: Capt. Sampson, Alexander 
Wood, Mr. Hathaway, George Tyler, Soil 
Holmes, one we called Percy, Herbert Wood, 
and myself [sic]. We were on the Banks 3 
months [and] were gone from home 3 1/2 months. 
We had good luck. Our fish weighed out 620 
quintals [62,000 pounds] of cod fish [sic]. 

When I went away I weighed 160 pounds. When 

1 got back, I weighed 181 pounds, so you see that 
it agreed with me pretty well. 

[home once more]: 

The next Winter I went to work for Capt. Zadock 
Thompson, running the box Mill for him. The 
next spring Capt. Sampson came to the mill and 
offered me $200.00 to go to the Banks with him 
that summer, but I dident go. Worked in the Mill 

2 winters for Zadock Thompson, then we mooved 
to Bridgewater to [the] Caleb Mitchell place. 
That was in 1866. 



Went to work in the long [-] board mill for 
Hollingsworth. Lived there and worked in the 
mill 6 years. Worked coaling every fall. In the 
6 years I made over a thousand loads of coal for 
S. Leonard and P.H. Wing. Austin was born at 
[the] Caleb Mitchell place Feb. 20, 1870. 

[Halifax; a place of his own]: 

Mooved back to Halifax in to [the] Cyrus Thomp- 
son Place in 1872 and went to work in the Mill 
there that winter. In the Spring went to 
Bridgewater working in the Old Restaurant. In 
the fall of 1 872 Bought and mooved to the Lewis 
Thompson Place. Went to work in the Saw Mill 
for Mark Cornell. Lived at the Lewis Thompson 
Place 11 years. Worked coaling in the Fall and 
in the Mill in the Winter. 

Bought my first Horse, an Old white Horse, of 
my Father. Paid $10.00 for him. Kept him 3 
years, then Bought a black mare of Calvin Wade. 
Paid $75.00 for her. Paid in chopping wood. 
She had a colt while I owned her. Owned her 12 



My Mother died in March 3 d , 1883. April 14 th of 
the same year mooved to the Dexter C. Thomp- 
son Place Worked in the mill for Cornell winters 
all this time. Worked in the mill for Cornell 
about 20 years all together. 

In September, 1876, while I lived at [the] Lewis 
Thompson Place, I went to Philadelphia to the 
Centennial Exhibition at Fairmount Park. It was 
to celebrate the 100 th anniversary of the indepen- 
dence of the United States of America. 

Philadelphia was settled in 1682. [It] is on the 
west side of the Deleware [sic] River near the 
junction of the Schuylkill River, and is 96 miles 
from the Ocean. In Fairmount Park there is 
2,740 Acres of land and water. Visited Indepen- 
dence Hall, whare the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence was signed; Carpenter's Hall, where the 
first Congress of the United Colonies assembled; 
the Old Swedes Church, built in 1700; Girard 
College, an Orphan's Educational Home sus- 
tained by a Fund of over $6,000,000, the Gift of 
a single citizen; the Academy of Natural Sci- 



ence; the Philadelphia Library, Founded by Ben- 
jamin Franklin in 1731; the Zoological Garden; 
the Masonic Temple; the New Public Buildings 
and the Markets and the United States Mint. 
These Buildings are all in the City. The Exhibi- 
tion buildings are: 

The Main Building [which] is 1880 ft. long 
by 464 ft. wide. In traveling through this 
Building to see the Exhibits, you will have 
to travel 11 Miles. This Building covers 
21 1/2 Acres. Cost $1,600,000. 

Art Gallery, 1 1/2 Acres. Cost $1,500,000. 

Machinery Hall, 14 Acres. Cost $800,000. 

Agricultural Hall, 10 1/4 Acres. Cost 

Horticultural Hall, 1 1/2 Acres. Cost 

Total travel to see the Exhibits: 22 miles. Total 
Acres covered: 48 3/4. Total cost: $4,500,000. 



Cost of Exhibition: $8,500,000. 

They had just commenced the Brooklyn Bridge 
then. When we went to the Centennial, they had 
got the 2 great Towers up and had got 2 guys 
across the River. The Towers are 278 ft. high. 

Mr. George Harden of Bridgewater and Mr. 
George Harden of East Bridgewater was in our 
party that went to the Centennial. 

While I lived at [the] D.C. Thompson Place, [I] 
worked in the Mill for Cornell. Winters, worked 
coaling. Summers, carted coal to Brockton. 

My next trip was to New York to see the great 
Brooklyn Bridge. It was just completed then. 
Took Abram with me on June 21, 1883. Arrived 
in New York June 22 nd at 8 o'clock A.M.. Got 
breakfast, crossed the great Bridge at 9 o'clock 
A.M.. Visited Vanderbuilt [sic] Park. At 10 
o'clock, crossed the Bridge again. Took the 
Horse cars and went to Central Park. Visited 
Metropolitan Museum and the Manigree and 
Obelisque [sic] . Come back on the Elevated Rail 



Road. Crossed the Bridge again at 9:30 P.M.. 
Stayed all night at the Dwinnel House in Brook- 

This Bridge was the longest single span in the 
world at that time. The Bridge crosses the river 
by a single span of 1,595 ft. suspended by 4 
cables 15 1/2 inches in diameter, each composed 
of 5,434 Parallel steel wires. Strength of each 
cable: 12,000 tons. Length of each land span: 
930 ft.. New York approach, 1,562 1/2 ft.. 
Brooklyn approach, 971 ft.. Total length of 
Bridge and approaches, 5,988 ft. 6 inches. Hight 
[sic] of towers, 278 ft.. Hight of roadway above 
high water at Towers, 1 19 ft. 3 in. — at center of 
span, 135 ft.. Width of Bridge, 85 ft. with tracks 
for cars, roadway for carriages, and walks for 
foot Passengers. The Bridge is lighted at Night 
by the United States Illuminating Co., with 35 
Electric lights of 2,000 candle Power [sic] each. 
Construction commenced January 1870. Com- 
pleted May 1883. Estimated Total cost, 

About 1860, leased a piece of land of Mendell 



Pierce of So. Plymouth and built a shanty on it, 
in the Pasture below his House, next to the water. 
After a few years Sold that and leased a lot of 
Charles Peterson at White Horse Beach and built 
another shanty. Owned that for several years, 
then sold out to Charles Peterson. 

In 1880, Bought a piece of land of Charles 
Peterson and built a House and Stable on it at 
White Horse Beach right at the landing. Kept 
that 12 years. Went there 2 or 3 weeks every 
Summer and let it the rest of the time. In 1892, 
sold out to Robert Packard of Brockton for $400. 

[Grand Army of the Republic; encampments] : 

In 1890, went to my first G.A.R. National En- 
campment in Boston. Went as color bearer. We 
formed on Boston Common at 9 o'clock A.M. 
and stood there until 5 o'clock P.M. before we 
moved. I had the colors to look out for, so I had 
to stay right there until we were called for so they 
would know where to form the line of March. 
They always give the visiting States the right of 
the line, so we come in last. The line of March 
started at 10 o'clock A.M. and dident get around 



until after dark before we got around. 

My next trip, in 1891, went to Detroit, Michigan. 
We went by the way of Niagara Falls — the first 
time I was ever there. There was 4 in our party: 
Charles P. Lyon, Capt. Reed, Cephas Washburn, 
and myself. I think this was in September. We 
left Boston in the afternoon From the North 
Station. Rode all Night. Arrived at Niagara 
Falls the next day in the A.M.. We were there all 
day. It was a Pleasant day. We visited Goat 
Island and had a drink out of the famous Spring. 
We left there in the Afternoon, crossed the Sus- 
pension Bridge into Canada, rode in Canada all 
Night, [and] arrived in Detroit the next morning. 
The Boats took the Train across the River into 
Detroit. There was a great crowd to meet us. 
They gave us quarters in the Store Houses [sic] 
along the River front [sic]. They were good 
quarters. I think they was as good People as we 
ever met. It seemed as though they couldent do 
enough for us. They gave us a Picnic on Belle 
Isle while we were there. Belle Isle is one of the 
Prettiest Parks I ever saw. Everything was free. 
All we wanted to eat and drink, including Beer. 



We were there 4 days. Our Parade Marched 
about 2 miles. The Women were out with their 
Ice Water all along the line. We came back the 
same way. Stoped at Niagara long enough to get 

In 1 892, Jessie Brown and Myself went to Wash- 
ington to the Encampment there. The first time 
I was ever there. We were there 5 days. Visited 
Arlington National Cemetary [sic], Elexandria 
[sic]; Mount Vernon. We had our quarters over 
to Anacosta, about 2 Miles out. 




1. An example of punctuation as a problem for the 
editor of a journal, diary, log, day-book, 
memoir.. ..Sylvanus' memoir, p. 31 of original. 

" a part of the secession plan to have the govern- 
ment Fortifications in as defenceless a condition as 
possible, most of the guns of the Fortress were un- 
mounted and lying packed outside the walls it conse- 
quently became the laborious duty of the Third and 
Fourth Regiments besides the usual routine of guard 
and garrison together with the unloading of vessels 
with stores, to drag these heavy pieces of ordnance 
into the fort up the ramparts and mount them this 
fatiguing work continued daily until July 1 st when the 
Regiment was ordered to occupy the village of Hamp- 
ton. It there took up quarters in the deserted houses, 
often having night scouting and harassing duties to 
perform as the enemy lying in force nine nine miles 
away at Big Bethel under General Magruder was 
frequently in contact with the Union lines then 
extending from Newport News through Hampton to 
Fortress Munroe the Battle of Big Bethel the first of 
the war having been fought on the tenth of June a 
demonstration was made in strong force with artil- 
lery and cavalry by the rebels towards Hampton on 
the night of July 4 th and Colonel Wardrop with nine 
companies of the Third and seven companies of the 
Naval Brigade made a counter demonstration by 
marchingout and taking position at the fork of the 



roads two miles from Hampton remaining for several 
hours, until scouts reported that the enemy had re- 
tired beyond Newmarket bridge. 





The chronology has been compiled using 

information from the memoir and from 

the Town Records of the years 

1839 through 1916. 



1839: Sylvanus Bourne born in Halifax April 4. 

• Father: Abram: Farmer: 1812-1900 

(87 years). 

• Mother: Mary Ann (Harlow): 1816 - 

1883 (67 years). 

1854: 15 years old: 

• Left home, boarded out with Leavitt 

Wood, did chores and went to school. 

1856: 17 years old: 

• Went to work for father for one year 

(after April 4, since he writes that he 
was 17). 

1857: 18 years old: 

• Hired out to Otis Thompson, for 6 months 

(after April 4, since he writes that he 
was 18). 

• Worked for Cyrus Thompson 6 months — 

part time in woods and rest of time in the 
mill. Lived at Cyrus' place. 

1859: 20 years old: 

• Left for California Feb. 4, before his 20th 

birthday. Turned 20 in California. Was 
there 4 months and 17 days). . 

1860: 21 years old: 

• Married Emily P. Wade (daughter of 

Leavitt and Lavinia ((Bourne)) Wade) on 
June 9. 

• Went to housekeeping at Cyrus 



Thompson's place. 

• Worked for Zadock Thompson in mill and 

in woods. 

• Bought a place in So. Plymouth and built 

a shanty near water. 

1861: 22 years old: 

• Hogreeve 

• Teacher, N.W. District. Paid $1.25. 

• Off to war, April 15 to July 22, 1861. 

• Moved from Cyrus Thompson place to 

Major Drew place. 

• Went to work in Bridgewater Iron Works. 

• Son Abram born, Dec. 29. 

1862: 23 years old: 

• Elected Highway Surveyor. Sworn in 

Mar. 3. 

• In accord with a vote of the Town, paid 

$15.21 as volunteer belonging to Halifax 
Light Infantry 

• In November, moved to East Bridgewater, 

into what was called the "small boarding 
house" at the Gin Works, to be nearer to 
Iron Works. 

• Continued at Iron Works. 

1863: 24 years old: 

• In April, moved to Elmwood into Philan- 

der Pratt's place. Lived there 1 1 months. 

• Left Iron Works. 

• Moved back to Halifax to father's place. 



1864: 25 years old: 

• May 23, went fishing on Grand Banks in 

summer with Capt. Joseph Sampson. 
Schooner Wampatuck. Gone 3 1/2 

• Ran box-mill for Zadock Thompson 

during winter. 

1865: 26 years old: 

• Ran box mill for Zadock Thompson 

during winter. 

1866: 27 years old: 

• Moved to Caleb Mitchell place in 


• Worked for Hollingsworth in long-board 

mill. Stayed 6 years. 

• Worked coaling in fall for 6 years. 

1867: 28 years old: 

• Lived in Caleb Mitchell place in 


• Worked for Hollingsworth. 

• Made coal in fall. 

1868: 29 years old: 

• Lived in Caleb Mitchell place in 


• Worked for Hollingsworth. 

• Made coal in fall. 







30 years old: 

• Lived in Caleb Mitchell place in 

Worked for Hollingsworth. 

Made coal in fall. 

1 years old: 

Lived in Caleb Mitchell place in 

Worked for Hollingsworth. 
Made coal in fall. 
Son Austin born Feb. 20. 

32 years old: 
Lived in Caleb Mitchell place in 


Worked for Hollingsworth. 
Made coal in fall. 

33 years old: 
Left Hollingsworth 
Reported that in the past 6 years he had 

made over 1,000 loads of coal for S. 

Leonard and P.H. Wing. 
Moved back to Halifax, into the Cyrus 

Thompson place. 
In fall, bought and moved to Lewis 

Thompson place. Lived there 1 1 years. 
Worked in Cyrus Thompson mill during 


1873: 34 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 



• In spring, worked in Bridgewater in Old 


• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Went to work in sawmill for Mark 

Cornell during winter. Worked there 20 
years altogether. 

1874: 35 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Worked for Mark Cornell in mill during 


• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1875: 36 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1876: 37 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Went to Centennial Exposition in Phila- 


1877: 38 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 



• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1878: 39 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1879: 40 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1880: 41 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Bought land at White Horse Beach. Built 

house and stable. Spent 2 - 3 weeks 
there in summer. 

1881: 42 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 




1882: 43 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Field Driver. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


1883: 44 years old: 

• Still living at the Lewis Thompson place. 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


• Mother died March 3, 67 years old. 

• Moved to Dexter C. Thompson place. 

• Trip to Brooklyn Bridge, June 21. Took 

Abram with him. Abram 22 years old. 
Bridge officially opened May 24, 1883. 

1884: 45 years old: 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


1885: 46 years old: 

• Field Driver. 



• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


1886: 47 years old: 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


1887: 48 years old: 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

1888: 49 years old: 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


1889: 50 years old: 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 




1890: 51 years old: 

• Elected Assessor. 

• Field Driver. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


• Attended his first G.A.R. encampment in 


1891: 52 years old: 

• Measurer of Wood and Bark. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


• Attended his second G.A.R encampment 

in Detroit. 

1892: 53 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Overseer of Poor.. 

• Measurer of Wood and Bark. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Summered 2-3 weeks at White Horse 


• Attended third G.A.R. encampment in 

Washington, D.C.. 



1893: 54 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Overseer of Poor. 

• Measurer of Wood and Bark. 

• Still working for Mark Cornell. 

• Fall, worked coaling. Summers, carted 

coal to Brockton. 

• Sold White Horse Beach property to 

Robert Packard of Boston for $400.00. 

1894: 55 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


• Measurer of Wood and Bark. 

• Elected as Halifax's first Tree Warden. 

1895: 56 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


• Tree Warden. 

1896: 57 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1897: 58 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1898: 59 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 




1899: 60 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1900: 61 years old: 

• Elected Assessor. 

• Father died 87 years old (1812 - 1900). 

• Jan. 10, Farmer's Club met at Sylvanus' 

house. Subject: "Are Labor-Saving 
Machines a Help to the Farmer?" Snow 
made for a poor attendance. 

1901: 62 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1902: 63 years old: 

• Elected Selectman. 

1903: 64 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1904: 65 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1905: 66 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


1906: 67 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 




1907: 68 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 

Poor/Board of Health. 

1908: 69 years old: 

• Elected Selectman/Assessor/Overseer of 


• In future, assessors to be elected for 3, 2, 

or 1 year terms. 

1909: 70 years old: 

• Elected Assessor for 3 year term. 

1910: 71 years old: 

• Assessor. 

1911: 72 years old: 

• Assessor. 

• On Memorial Day planning committee. 

1912: 73 years old: 

• Elected Assessor for 3-year term. 

• On Memorial Day planning committee 

1913: 74 years old: 

• Assessor. 

• On Memorial Day planning committee. 

1914: 75 years old: 

• Assessor. 

• Town voted that official ballots be used 

in future town elections. 



• Drawn for jury duty in Superior Court. 

1915: 76 years old: 

• Elected Assessor for 3-year term. 

1916: 77 years old: 

• Assessor. 

• Elected Trustee of Halifax Improvement 


• March 16, Bryantville News reports 

Sylvanus seriously ill at home on 
Thompson Street with kidney trouble. 

• Died April 9, "of heart trouble and other 

complaints.". 78 years old. 

The Death of a Well Known Resident of Halifax 

Sylvanus Bourne, a well known resident of Halifax and an 
office holder in town, died at his home on Thompson Street, 
Sunday morning, April 9, of heart trouble and other complaints, 
after a sickness confining him to the house for several weeks 
and being unwell for some time previously. 

Mr. Bourne was a native of Halifax, always resided there and 
was a veteran of the Civil War, serving three months in Co. A, 
3d Regt. at Fortress Monroe and was the last of the minute men 

in Halifax. 

The confidence which people of the town placed in him is 
shown by the public offices which he has held, serving fourteen 
years as selectman and twenty-six years as assessor, the latter 
office being held by him at his death. He leaves a widow, Emily 
Bourne and two sons, Abram and Austin F. both residing with 
families in town. 

The funeral was held at two o'clock Tuesday and burial was at 
Central Cemetery. 






all ready [already] 
all together [altogether] 
any whare [anywhere] 
aquainted [acquainted] 

bigest [biggest] 
breast work [breastwork] 
brest work [breastwork] 
butiful [beautiful] 

candle power [candlepower] 
carryed [carried] 
cemetary/cemetairy [cemetery] 
chaning [chaining] 
cleet [cleat] 
comeing [coming] 
couldent [couldn't] 

defenceless [defenseless] 
Deleware [Delaware] 
dident [didn't] 
distruction [destruction] 
down hill [downhill] 

fireing [firing] 
fuzes [fuses] 

guyes [guys] 

hadent [hadn't] 

happyest [happiest] 

Head quarters [headquarters] 

hight [height] 

house keeping [housekeeping] 

Militairy [military] 
Munroe [Monroe] 
mooved [moved] 
my self [myself] 

on to/in to [onto/into] 
over Night [overnight] 

Pannama [Panama] 
pasenger [passenger] 
payed [paid] 
pianoes [pianos] 

recruted [recruited] 
River front [riverfront] 

set back [setback] 
some time [sometime] 
Steam Ship [steamship] 
stoped [stopped] 
Store Houses [storehouses] 
straped [strapped] 
Sumpter [Sumter] 

togather [together] 
tug boat [tugboat] 

untill [until] 

Vanderbuilt [Vanderbilt] 

wasent [wasn't] 
whare [where] 
wouldent [wouldn't] 












Ice water 


Professional Player 








Animals feet 


Iron Plates 


















long Island 




Battle Ships 








Mail Boat 










Billiard Room 






Boarding House 




Saw Mill 












































































Native Huts 




Elevated Rail Road 


Native Soldiers 












Natives Huts 
































Stage coach 










Old Frigate 












































Suspension Bridge 














Gin works 




















Picket Duty 






Picket Guards 


Turkey Buzzards 


Head quarter 



















i A 







Por.hole Stoppers 










House Keeping 





Sylvanus' spelling was lot al iys con .istent. Among the examples, however, there are 
indications that in certai. capi .lizations which we might consider inappropriate 
to-.'ay, were being emploj 1 consi: gently a cording to some sort of rule. Interested readers 
might vish to use the list : track dc-vn particular instances and determine, from context, 
whether ihe capitalization of 7 iven weds was accidental or apparendy according to a rule. 



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